The American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC is a secretive alliance between big business and conservative extremists that has generated cookie-cutter bills in state legislatures across the country to win corporate tax loopholes, pass right-to-work-for-less laws, weaken safety and health standards and suppress voting rights of millions of Americans.
Among the 2,000 or so state legislators who belong to ALEC are numerous state senate presidents and house speakers. One of ALEC’s key functions is to facilitate an “exchange” between corporate donors and state legislators. Corporations pay ALEC’s expenses, contribute to legislators’ campaigns, and fund state-level think tanks that promote an anti-worker, conservative agenda. In return, legislators promote corporate agendas in their statehouses. Over the past decade, ALEC’s leading corporate backers have contributed more than $370 million to state elections, and over 100 laws per year based on ALEC’s model bills have been adopted.
ALEC also promotes a broader economic and deregulatory agenda that targets income levels of the middle class including deep cuts to Social Security, unemployment insurance, funding for public schools. ALEC also supports measures to block union organizing and restrict union participation in political debates. Model statues developed and promoted through its network include forced privatization and the abolition of prevailing wage laws and the minimum wage.
Secrecy once aided the ALEC agenda, but that’s changing, thanks to a growing partnership among labor and progressive advocates to “call out” ALEC bills and the legislators that sponsor them. As a result, ALEC has lost a number of major corporate sponsors, among them Kraft Foods, Coca Cola, Microsoft, and Google.